Paul McCartney’s incredible decades-long journey as he celebrates his 80th birthday

As I waited to board a plane that would take me to see Paul McCartney, 60, a familiar face appeared on the departure lounge TV.

Yoko Ono opened her murdered husband’s childhood home as a National Trust museum, explaining why, in 2003, it finally deserves global recognition.

“The spirit that profoundly changed the world was enshrined in this familiar place. He was a unique man of excellence,” she said.

As the plane to Barcelona took off from Liverpool’s John Lennon International Airport, I looked down at the nearby council estate where the other half of that world-changing spirit had grown.

And I wonder why The Beatle, who couldn’t be more local when it comes to Liverpool’s airport, doesn’t even have a baggage carousel bearing his name.

Especially since Paul McCartney has returned to his home town more than the rest.

He is the driving force behind the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, pumping £3m into the project to save his old high school from decay in the hope it will give working-class kids talent has a place in the creative world.

He still teaches classes there and rarely misses a graduation ceremony.

He’s the one who wrote a classic oratorio about Liverpool, featured the Capital Culture Year bill and contributed to two number one singles to raise money for the Hillsborough family.

Paul McCartney & John Lennon with a copy of the Daily Mirror in the back of a car



The Beatles split up in 1970

And he’s the one who comes home often to show his kids, friends and partner how proud he is of his roots – as James Corden discovered when McCartney’s old haunts became setting for his Carpool Karaoke trip and left the host of The Late Late Show in tears as they duet on Let It Be.

McCartney has been harshly judged by many to be The cute Beatle in many ways. People obsessed with money. The one who broke the group. The man who wrote the Silly Love Song wasn’t imaginary.

Since The Beatles split in 1970, his every word, song, and action has been measured against the global peace icon and working-class hero he once wrote songs for. together.

A conflict unfolds as family man with catchy tunes versus hippy with revolutionary vision.

And when Lennon was murdered in New York in 1980, McCartney was doomed to forever be compared to a saint he could never hope to sanctify. Once obscured by an assassin’s bullet.

Even so, standing in the Barcelona sports arena watching the first of two sold-out shows, McCartney’s adoration was supported by religion as 18,000 cult Spaniards shouted hoarsely. whole neck.

Sir Paul and his mother – a nurse

Female fans no longer leave puddles of excitement at his gigs like the 1960s, but there are tears in their eyes every time he hears a Beatles song.

On the floor, they squirm and scream like ghosts of bygone manic days.

On stage, the 60-year-old is reincarnated, creating his charismatic comeback catalog, delivering powerful reminders to audiences about who they are and who they love.

The love of McCartney’s life is Linda. When The Beatles blew up, he fell into a deep depression and hit the bottle – and admits he was saved by the love of his wife, who convinced him of so much to offer as a musician.

In 1970, he released his first solo album, McCartney, which became a number one in the United States.

The following year, a second album, Ram, topped the UK charts. Later that year, McCartney formed Wings with former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine, with Linda later as lead vocalist and keyboardist.

He agonized over the decision: “Wings was always a difficult idea because I knew any group that followed the Beatles would have a hard time,” he said. “However, it was a choice between moving on or ending and I loved the music too much to stop.” Wings became one of the best-selling songs of the 1970s with 14 number-one hits in the US and five number-one albums.

Paul and his first wife Linda


Nice pictures)

During our interview before the show in Barcelona, ​​I asked him how he felt about the harsh criticism some of his Wings productions have drawn, including the mocking Linda’s voice.

“Over time, I’ve learned that if you try something different, you’ll be knocked out,” he replied, pointing out that on that tour, his Wings songs attracted the biggest reaction from audiences outside of the UK. He might add that the purists ate up his 1977 hit Mull of Kintyre but it sold more copies than any other Beatles single.

McCartney and Linda were happily married, spending a lot of time on his Scottish farm in Kintyre.

When she died of breast cancer in 1998 at the age of 56, McCartney was devastated and needed therapy “to help get rid of the guilt of wishing I was always perfect when I was with her.” “.

In Barcelona, ​​he told me that life had been very difficult for several years after her death. But after touring again and marrying Heather Mills – whom he met at the Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards – he feels “back in the land of life”.

He added: “I wake up every morning thinking, ‘No, it has to end, it can’t go on,’ but it did.”

That feeling of happiness soon turns sour as he goes through a terrible and costly divorce from Mills after they have daughter Beatrice together.

He married Heather Mills in 2002, then the two split in 2008.



He knew George before he knew any of the other band members



Three years after their separation in 2008, he married his third wife, American businesswoman Nancy Shevell, 18 years younger than him, with whom he still happily shares his life.

I wanted to know about his relationship with John Lennon and the bad blood after The Beatles broke up is something I wanted to know. He told me, “We failed in business. It was like a divorce and we bit each other.

“But, look, I’m the one who understands him better than any other man. We slept together as teenagers, crossed millions of hiking spots.

“Thankfully, we became good friends before he passed away. It would be really hard for me if we didn’t. “

The most emotional part of our conversation came when McCartney described how the death of George Harrison, 15 months earlier, was a painful blow.

He told me, “It was different for my mother and John and Linda to go because their deaths were sudden and George had been ill for a while. But it’s sad because I love you so much.

“I just went through cancer with Linda and here I go through it all again with my partner of 50 years. He’s not my immediate family, but he’s close. He always felt like my little brother.

“I knew George before I knew any of the others, before all that madness started and I really loved that man. I am very proud to know him. ”

He took a breath, focused on a point in the distance, and muttered, “What a lovely boy. The last time I saw him, he was very sick and I held his hand for four hours. When I was doing that, I thought ‘I’ve never held his hand before. This is not what you two Scouse guys do’. I kept thinking, ‘He’s going to hit me and tell me to leave’.

This week he turns 80 years old

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“But he didn’t do that. He just stroked my hand with his thumb and I thought ‘Ah, that’s okay. This is life. It’s tough but it’s lovely’. “

I asked him if, for someone who just wanted to consider himself an ordinary person, would his enormous wealth embarrass him? At the time, his fortune was worth around £700 million. Today, it’s like 1 billion pounds.

“Not at all,” he replied. “When I left school, I started to get a job and make as much money as I could. I am no different from anyone else.

“Some people think that earning all this money is pointless. I do not. I’m trying to do my best. I’m not embarrassed if it means I make a lot of money.

“And the best part about it is being able to help friends and family with health problems. That’s the real buzz I get from the money. ”

When Wings split in 1981, McCartney successfully collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Costello and continued to record solo work.

His 2018 album Egypt Station earned him his first US Billboard number one in 36 years, and in 2020, the McCartney III album was released to worldwide acclaim.

Tomorrow, he turns 80 and next Saturday he returns to Glastonbury for the first time since 2004 as the festival’s longest-running leader. He doesn’t have a bad life.

McCartney admits that after his mother died when he was 14, he learned to embrace himself. That is why it was difficult for outsiders to understand him for decades.

But he’s basically a romantic at heart and the key to his music and personality is his relationships with the people he trusts and loves.

At the end of our interview, I told him that I would become emotional during the sound test that afternoon when I heard him play My Love, the ballad he wrote to express his gratitude. her devotion to Linda.

It’s a song loved by my mother, who passed away suddenly last year, and I told him it made me choke.

He seemed really emotional and said that he would give my love to her on the show that night and that I would think of her as he sang.

I thank him. And he replied, “You know, never stop thinking about your mother. I do not. Even though she’s been gone for a long time. She is still here. They live through you and with you, our mother. Be proud of her.”

Happy birthday Macca. This is for you to take life’s sad songs and make them better for years to come.

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